How do I do what I do and why do I do what I do? These are two of the most commonly asked questions I hear. How I do what I do is extremely difficult to explain in words, the why is much easier explain, so I'll start there.
I was born just weeks before the family bowling business in Orange, New South Wales, Australia opened. Instead of taking me to day care I was taken to the bowl. Mum would work while she held me in hers arms and I was in a bowling centre for more hours in the day than I was at home.
I started walking when I was nine months old and when I was 18 months old I was strong enough to push a bowling ball on my own and that’s when I began to bowl. In 1985, the lightest bowling ball we had was 10lbs, carrying this was almost impossible and bowling with 1 hand certainly was.
I began to bowl by pushing the ball down the lane with two hands. I continued to bowl like this till I was old enough to pick the ball up on my own. Still though the ball was too heavy for me to lift with one hand, so I would throw the ball down the lane with two hands. I slowly learnt to put my fingers in the ball and by the age four I won my first tournament with doubles partner, Peter Brown (I looked up to Peter from that day forth and still do as a bowler and a person).
By aged 5, I was averaging 118 and had a high game of 175, pre bumper days and was learning how to curve the ball more than anyone else in town. I LOVED IT!
My style was still very rough and complicated. Many of the ‘local’ bowlers and even national coaches would try and change me and convert me to the ‘normal’ way of bowling. I’m very thankful that I was as stubborn and ignored them, who knows what I would be doing if I had listened. I am also thankful that my parents were not bowlers themselves. Their limited knowledge in coaching meant they didn’t want to try and change me, they just wanted to see me having fun.
My style is becoming more and more popular around the world. An army of two handed bowlers is hitting the lanes and I am proud to represent this group.
I am very proud of the fact that many bowlers around the world look up to me and even more proud of the fact that I helped the two handed style become a legitimate style to the many critics around the world.
I use my left hand (I bowl right handed) as a guide. It doesn’t help with ball rotation or ball speed. In fact, when you slow down my release via a high-speed video camera, you actually see me release the ball with one hand. My left hand comes off the ball before my right hand, meaning I’m actually a one handed bowler, with an extended two handed approach. My left hand doesn’t come off the ball though till the very end of the approach.
I hold the ball in both hands all the way through my push away and back swing. Having the left hand still attached to the ball means that the weight of the ball is split in both hands. I now have less pressure on my wrist to create maximum amount of revolutions (an average of 600 RPM).
My back swing can’t be as high as a one handed bowler, because both my hands are still on the ball, so to generate ball speed I do two main things. I use my hips and legs to produce ball speed, together with what has become a famous little ‘skip’ from my 3rd to my 4th into my sliding 5th step.
These two main points are the main reason I can generate such high ball speed with such a small back swing. With some great advice as a teenager from my state team coach Dr. Ed Kee, I learnt that the smoother the technique, the less effort is required to generate the power I do.
I have more ball speed and more power than almost every other bowler in the world, but I use less effort. That’s an advantage for two handed bowling. Please understand though, that what I do is not for everyone. I bowl this way because it’s the only way I know how.
I don’t claim that my style is the ‘only way’ or the ‘best way’ to bowl. What I will say though is if you’re thinking of doing something different to improve your game, don’t count out the two handed style as a possibility. I known many players who, after trying it, love the extra power it gives them and the extra enjoyment they have for the game because of it. So it just might work for you too.
Starting position in an athletic stance. Hips opened slightly with a slight body lean to the right.
The ball is pushed almost at full arms length in front of me to start the swing. Elbow now tucks inside the line of the body and head remains still.
At the top of the swing, both hands remain on the ball. My upper body is now tilted forwarded to allow the height of the swing. Head is still with eyes directly at my target. This also begins the power into the slide from the hips.
As the ball is being delivered, the power slide is almost complete, my upper body position is now tilted forward to it's lowest position to allow a long 'flat spot'. It also allows the ball to be rolled smoothly onto the lane for the best possible transfer of energy from body to lane.
As the slide is now completed, my trailed has been moved behind and to the side to create the foundation for a solid balance position. My left hand has now exited off the ball and just my two middle fingers are left in the ball.
My finish position shows my trail leg anchored to the ground for maximum balance. Follow through is long, aggressive and finished above my head. My left arm is straightened out and also acts as a counter balance. Head solid and still, eyes are now watching the ball hit my target.
Put it altogether and this is what it looks like.